Sunday, May 15, 2011

adventures in fondant

earlier this month i decided to take a stab at working with fondant.  for those who might not know, fondant is that pretty, smooth, fancypants looking coating that you see covering most wedding cakes.  anyone who's watched ace of cakes or cake boss has probably seen fondant.

also, while researching fondant, i found out that it's the main ingredient in cadbury creme egg filling.  this made it difficult for me to not shovel spoonfuls of it into my mouth as i was mixing it.

i settled on making a spring themed cake geared toward my boyfriend's two nephews, who are 4 and 2 years old.  i figured even if it turned out awful they'd probably still eat it with gusto, which would make me feel good about the project regardless.

my friend who lives in texas made a fondant cake for her boyfriend's birthday last year, and she shared this link with me.  you'll find the recipe and instructions i followed on that site.  basically, you mix powdered sugar and melted marshmallows together into a ridiculously sticky dough and let the dough set overnight.  then you roll the dough out into a sheet, fold the sheet over your frosted cake, and trim.  decorate as desired.

it sounds easy, and honestly, it kind of is, but i spent hours wrestling with the sticky dough and my wooden rolling pin.  i need to buy a nonstick rolling pin before i do this again.  i also need to buy much smaller cookie cutters, because i also wasted quite a bit of time feeling rather disgusted about how far off my proportions were with the decorations.

i'm thrilled with how the cake with the initial layer of coating came out.  it looked very pretty and clean.  i'm not thrilled with my decorations, although i seemed to get positive feedback from the folks i showed it to.  you can judge for yourself.

a few things i learned from my adventure:

1. fondant is really, really rich. in other words, not great for eating after it's settled into a dough. it's marshmallow + powdered sugar, but the consistency of cookie dough. it's really just there to make the cake pretty.

2. peeling off the fondant takes a great deal of the frosting underneath with it. my boyfriend made a very big deal about this, as he is apparently some sort of closet frosting addict. next time, i will use a lot more frosting under the fondant.

3. this junk is STICKY. holy moly, i went through half a tin of cornstarch trying to keep the stuff from sticking to me, the counters, the rolling pin, the cutters.

4. i screwed up and didn't color my fondant during the mixing process.  kneading in food coloring was a sticky, horrible nightmare. next time, i will color the fondant as i'm melting the marshmallows. MUCH easier method.

5. i am absolutely making my own wedding cake if/when i get married. one of the simplest, classiest looking cakes i've seen is just plain white fondant with a length of ribbon tacked around the base of each layer and a topper made of flowers. i can totally make that.

6. i love to bake. i need to find an outlet for this, because i cannot start cranking out sugary treats and keeping them at home. i will eat them and get fat. not ok.

7. finding gel based food coloring was a challenge i wasn't expecting.  i went to half a dozen grocery stores before a nice bakery employee told me to try michael's.  i've been able to find it in the cake decorating aisles of michael's, joann's, and hobby lobby.

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